Jaipur: In a major setback to former Mizoram governor Kamla Beniwal, an additional district judge (ADJ) court on Tuesday ordered her to appear for hearing in a 2012-case related to usurping of government land worth crores of rupees.
ADJ Court-4 judge Rajesh Sharma dismissed a revision petition filed by Beniwal and 14 others challenging an order of a magistrate taking cognizance for offences of forgery, fraud and usurping of government land in Jaipur. “The court has ordered her to face trial on October 22,” said advocate AK Jain, who had filed the criminal complaint on behalf of one Sanjay Kishore in 2012.
In addition to Mizoram, Beniwal has served as governor of Tripura and Gujarat between 2009 and 2014.
The case against her pertains to 384 bighas (nearly 218.34 acres) of government land allotted to one Kisan Samuhik Krishi Sahkari Samiti Limited (farmers' cooperative society) at a cost of Rs 25 per acre for collective farming at Jhotwara on the city's outskirts in 1953.
Kamla, who entered politics in 1954 at the age of 27 and went on to become the state's first woman minister the same year, became a member of this cooperative society in 1970. The society got the land on a 20-year-lease, which was later extended to 25 years.
The lease, as such, expired in 1978 and, as per the agreement, the land's ownership stood transferred to the state government. The government earmarked 221 bighas from the original 384 bigha for Kardhani and Prithviraj Nagar residential schemes in October 1999. Since the land already stood transferred to the government, the petitioner claimed that society members had no right to claim compensation in lieu of “land acquisition”.
According to the complainant in court, the society's original members had been elbowed out and influential people had taken over its reins. They allegedly manipulated society rules to distribute the land among themselves.